Roatan, Honduras is the largest of the Honduras Bay Islands. It is about 77 k long and less that 8 k across at its widest point. Roatan’s history traces back to the Maya civilization. It has seen the arrival of the Conquistadors, the Garifuna, and the fishing industry.
In 1990, about 19,000 English-speaking people inhabited this little island. Now it is known for its diving and snorkeling. Doris and I took the underwater museum and reef tour. Twenty-three people crowded into a small bus to head out to the world’s second largest barrier reef. The last four people to board the bus had to sit in jump seats in the aisle.
On the coach ride to the museum, the tour guide told us about the sleepy community. Most of the houses are built on stilts because the islands sees more than 150 inches of rain each year. The public school children wear uniforms in the color of the state flag, blue and white. The younger children attend classes in the morning while the older ones use the same classrooms in the afternoon.
The bus arrived at a recently opened center. Our snorkeling guide divided us into two groups. Luckily my sister and I were in the second group because this gave us an opportunity to swim in the shallow waters off the beach and try the snorkeling gear. The snorkel broke off my mask so I had used one provided by the tour. Doris had to get help fitting her new mask. By the time the first group returned, we were ready for the tour. The water near the “museum” was not pristine, the statues were ketch,and the marine life was not abundant nor colorful. In spite of this, we shared a wonderful adventure.
The town where we ported is colorful, but poor. I wonder if the natives see the tourist as a blessing or a curse, with the thousands of foreigners descending on their little island each day.
Instead of snorkeling, Elizabeth set off on her own to explore the town. She loved the colorful buildings and enticing local shops and eateries. She felt sorry for the dogs wandering through the town, but decided against giving them water, thinking that they had been surviving without her help. After withdrawing money from the local ATM, she realized that the machine currency was not US dollars, but Honduran. The exchange rate for US dollar to the Honduran Lempira is about a 22:1. She laughed as she realized the withdrawal fees were higher than the amount she took out.
Back on the ship, Mom and I decided against ordering a Moscow Mule, the drink of the day, and ordered the Painkiller instead. This rum-coconut-pineapple concoction has become her favorite cocktail. Since on vacation, sipping on a fruity drink has replace our afternoon tea.
The evening’s performance was “The Look of Love,” a Burt Bacharach review. The story was lame, but the singing and performance was entertaining.